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The EXP-FIO-130 experiment, performed in the NRX (National Research Experimental) reactor at the Chalk River Laboratories in 1983, was a part of an experimental program on fuel performance under high-temperature transient conditions such as those associated with the onset of a loss-of-coolant accident (LOCA).
The NRX was a heavy-water moderated, light-water cooled reactor with a graphite neutron reflector. NRX had two in-reactor loops, X-2 and X-4, which were used as experimental facilities. Low- and high-pressure experiments could be performed in NRX using a flow tube designed to use the normal reactor cooling system.
The main purpose of the EXP-FIO-130 experiment was to provide quantitative code validation data and information on the thermal and mechanical behaviour of Zircaloy-sheathed UO2 fuel elements during LOCA conditions.
An instrumented, Zircaloy-sheathed UO2 fuel element assembly, previously irradiated to a burnup of 32 MWh/kgU and average linear power of 50 kW/m during a soak irradiation phase, was subjected to a coolant depressurization (blowdown) transient in the X-2 pressurized water loop of the NRX reactor. The fuel element used 1.3 wt% U-235 in uranium dioxide fuel clad with Zircaloy-4 sheath material.
The fuel assembly was instrumented with thermocouples for the fuel, fuel sheath and coolant, pressure transducers for element internal and coolant pressures, and a flux detector. The instrumentation provided data throughout the soak irradiation and subsequent blowdowns.
Post-irradiation examination (PIE) of the fuel element assembly included visual examination, photography, sheath profilometry measurements, neutron radiography, and Metallography, including fuel grain size measurements. Chemical burnup and fission-gas measurements were not acquired.
Another in-reactor LOCA experiment, the EXP-FIO-131 experiment, was conducted in 1983, using a similar, unirradiated, fuel element. The purpose of conducting the same test on both an irradiated element (EXP-FIO-130) and an unirradiated element (EXP-FIO-131) was to demonstrate that irradiation has a negligible effect on high-temperature sheath strain.
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Keywords: CANDU, fuel behaviour, loss-of-coolant accident.